Angels in White (2020)

“Angels in White” is available most everywhere including: Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, iHeart Radio, etc.

“Angels in White” (The Nurses’ Song) celebrates nurses and is a memorial to Susan Carol Bolack Sulier, L.P.N.. This is the story of how it came about. (Click here for her obituary and please scroll down for the lyrics and credits.)

In the summer of 2019, a friend called me one afternoon. He liked my original music very much and had an idea. He had lost his wife to cancer the year before and asked me if I would consider recording one or two of her favorite songs for a CD which he could pass out to friends and family as a memorial to her life. As I listened to him share some of her experiences as a nurse, I hesitated for two reasons even though I thought it was truly a good thing he was asking me to do. As a songwriter, recording other artists’ music is just not my forte. I’d written and recorded well over 100 songs, but I had never recorded a cover song before. The other problem was more personal…

Two years earlier I had been rear-ended in a car accident and was still struggling with severe concussion symptoms that forced me to optimize my life and cut out just about everything that wasn’t necessary. I had done a lot of interviews for my last E.P. “Pawns” and things started to take off, but after the accident, I had to budget my ability to focus and had stopped playing music altogether. Being self-employed running my marketing company meant if I didn’t work, I couldn’t pay my bills. On the other hand, though I was doing my best to heal while continuing to work, it was clear that I was missing this important part of my being.

Matt Fitzgibbons' Martin D-15
My Martin D-15

As I continued listening to the stories he shared about her life, I found myself writing down lyric lines that kept popping into my mind. After a few minutes, he had to hang up to collect himself. The memories were painful for him. I sat there stunned at the seriousness of what was happening. I stared at my guitar within arm’s reach and hesitated while having an internal debate. Twice I stretched out my arm to grab it but withdrew. Finally, it occurred to me that if there was ever a reason to play music again, this was it. It wasn’t for money. It was to do something truly good for one of the kindest people I knew and it could serve a double purpose of thanking all nurses and healthcare providers for their compassion and professionalism. Whatever happened, this was the right thing to do. Little did I know how many “coincidences” would regularly occur throughout the process to remind me.

Angels in White Vocals
Matt Fitzgibbons singing “Angels in White”

While I waited for his call back, I picked up my guitar and wrote the first half of “Angels in White”. A few minutes later, when he did, I read him what I had written and it was clear that this was what we were supposed to do. The writing process took just over 1/2 hour. It was as if I had been given a gift to give. That evening I laid down the first draft recording and composed the string orchestration. Luckily for me, my mother who has been playing violin all of her life, was only a couple of weeks away from a visit. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have my Mom play on this song?” The only problem was that although I could record my guitars and vocals in my home studio (once I got it all set up again), I couldn’t guarantee that a neighbor’s lawn crew with mowers and backpack blowers wouldn’t ruin recording the violins during the few hours we would have. I needed to find a studio that was nearby.

Recording the contrabass on "Angels in White"
Frank Brocklehurst & Matt Fitzgibbons

I booked time at Roxbury Station and went with my friend Dan Keeler who had agreed to produce my vocals. After the violins were recorded, I had the privilege of meeting and working with Frank Brocklehurst (an incredible musician with an impressive resume playing and recording with world-famous musicians.) Marc Weisgal (the owner of the studio) recommended him as the best guy in the region for two of the parts I needed players for: contrabass for the 2nd verse and electric bass for the choruses at the end. When Frank walked in, it turns out that he and Dan were longtime friends who had just spoken a few days earlier! I never mentioned his name to Dan, only that Marc had recommended someone excellent. “An interesting coincidence”, I thought.

Angels in White Single cover art
Angles in White Artwork

Although I had written the song many months before, I thought that the chorus at the end could repeat one more time. I made a rough draft mix and decided that I needed to get some opinions. But who? Other than two of my closest friends who were musicians, only people who had worked on the song had heard it. One Friday night, at the local pub, a friend of a friend came in. After dinner, the three of us went back to my place to hang out for a little while before calling it a night. I saw this an an opportunity to find out what someone who had never heard “Angels in White” thought of it. He agreed. When the song ended, he said it was really good and asked me if I knew that he was a nurse. I didn’t. It was yet one more “coincidence”.

A few days later, I saw my friend for whom I had written “Angels in White” some towns away at an event packed with people. I sat down near him, though he didn’t see me. He was speaking with someone so I waited for a break in the conversation to say hello. When I did, my friend’s face lit up and he introduced me to the man he was speaking with saying, “This is the guy I was telling you about… the musician who wrote the song for my wife”. His friend then said, “As a nurse myself, I’m sure it will be appreciated”… And another coincidence.

A.J. Sorensen
A.J. Sorensen

At the end of February 2020, recording was done. As I waited for the final product, I began collecting royalty-free images so I could get the video out as soon as possible once the song was finished. As hospitals began to fill and reports of healthcare workers struggling with supply problems became common, it was clear that nurses in the hardest hit areas were working under tremendous pressure. My hope was that “Angels in White” might help boost their morale. I had a problem though. There were no modern photos of nurses with face masks anywhere online that I could use. I mentioned it to my friend A.J. Sorensen (of SureSound Recording Studio) who was mixing it for me. I could hear him smile over the phone as he said, “My mother is a nurse… I’ll ask her”.

Later that day, my oldest friend Troy called me out of the blue. I don’t think we’d spoken in 5 years. We spent some time catching up and I told him about the song and my problem finding modern photos. He told me that his daughter was a pediatric nurse treating COVID-19 patients in Florida. A couple of days later, both he and A.J. sent me several photos their family members had taken for me to use. If I ever believed in “coincidences”, I don’t anymore.

The two goals of creating a memorial for my friend’s wife (Susan Carol Bolack Sulier, L.P.N.) and thanking all nurses have been accomplished. To everyone who has contributed generously to this project and to those who have liked and shared the video… Thank you!

-Matt Fitzgibbons

“Angels in White” Lyrics

“Angels in White” ©2019, Matthew Fitzgibbons (ASCAP)
(for Susan Carol Bolack Sulier, L.P.N.)

It’s been two whole days since she’s gotten a wink.
She heads to a cot for an hour.
A quick bight to eat and then back on her feet
and if time allows maybe a shower.

A child is crying, his mother is gone
and nobody else hears his call.
She turns back to help,
like an angel in white… and flies down the hall.

Her smile doesn’t hint at the things she’s seen.
She washes the blood from her clothes.
There are times when she just has to cry it all out.
She does it so nobody knows.

And someone just learned their loved one has died.
It happened too fast for goodbye.
She gives them a hug
and finds them a room… the one where she cries.

They’re the angels in white.
They’ll be there through the night,
to make your loved ones right.
They’re the angels in white.

They’re the angels in white.
They’ll be there through the night,
to make your loved ones right.
when a soul takes flight,
they’re the angels in white.

Credits:

Matt Fitzgibbons: Music, lyrics, arrangement, vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, drums, recording and video creation.
Tanesha Gore: Vocals
Marc Weisgal: Electric guitar
Rosalie Fitzgibbons: Violin
Dan Keeler: Vocal production
Frank Brocklehurst: Upright and electric bass
Recorded at Roxbury Station, Roxbury, CT
Mixed at Sure Sound Studios, Bridgeport, CT
Mastered by Will Quinnell at Stirling Sound
Public Domain and Royalty-Free images from the Library of Congress and www.UnSplash.com

Angels in White Artists